At the end of March, Anfal Saqib chose the domain name for her new blog,The Lockdown Lens, carefully. As she adjusted to lockdown herself, and connected to family and friends around the world to see how they were doing, she realised this was “a truly unique event from a sociological and historical point of view that is genuinely global and I wanted to capture people’s voices and experiences of this point in time on an inclusive platform.” The blog, contributed to by people all over the world, paints a diverse picture of the situation in the UK, Rwanda, Iraq and a refugee camp in Dzaleka, Malawi.
Situations like the one experienced bya contributor flying through Dubaifrom Sri Lanka,“…the mood was tense and urgent…I feel that I understand the contagion of fear for the first time…We try to keep upbeat and avoid panicking even in the face of a cancelled connecting flight and the possibility of being stuck somewhere in limbo. ‘Corona’ is the word on everyone’s lips. We hear it slipping through a multitude of tongues, Arabic, English, German and more. It is the ever present, invisible beast.”
Anfal is no stranger to lockdown having worked in insecure environments for an international development organisation. “In Pakistan, we weren’t put into lockdown for long periods but there were always these periodic moments of civil unrest where we were told to have enough water in the house to last five days or enough food. Also, while living in Ghana, we lived simply with limited access to certain products or ingredients and we adjusted. This made me wonder if other people were having the same experience or different ones. What was the lockdown like for them?’
The term lens was selected because of the multiple views that emerge even in the same environment. For examples, two different contributors share their own unique perspectives from Kigali, Rwanda. “There’s a diversity of ways at looking at things,” Anfal said. “As well as how people are looking through their lens to the future.”
When asked if there were perspectives that weren’t yet on the site Anfal said she’s looking to draw in the medical perspective (doctors are busy treating people), that of older people and the perspective from grief. “Every day,” she said. “We have a government briefing saying that this many people are sick or have died but for each of those numbers there’s an experience which we don’t ever see. I hope to bring a human element, one that’s more nuanced and balanced, to what we see in the media.”
Anfal noted that several themes have been emerging through the contributions. People appreciate all the additional time they have and being more connected to other people – despite the physical social distancing. Also, most contributions convey a resilience and belief that this will pass and that we have the opportunity to create what our lives, and the world, look like on the other side of this. Most people, she said, go through a journey from the initial shock of the lockdown into an acceptance and appreciating their own individual silver linings.
“It’s quite humbling,” she continued. “That people are taking the time to write. I set up the platform, but it relies on people being willing to share. Many contributors have said they’ve found it therapeutic to be able to write about their experiences.”
If you’d like to contribute to the Lockdown Lens or share their stories click here.